As more people return to the land, homesteaders should beware of changes in their personalities. Some of the changes are positive. There is a lot to be said for listening to the rhythmic crunch-crunch-crunch as the rabbits munch through vegetable scraps or sipping coffee, while watching the chickens sort out their personal issues.
Despite chickens being dumb and mean, I’ve concluded they have expanded the selection of idioms in the English language.
It doesn’t take long owning chickens to gain a new appreciation for phrases like “pecking order,” “hen pecked,” and “ruffled feathers.” I didn’t have my own chickens until recently, so chicken expressions were abstract. Now, that I’ve seen their behaviors up close and personal on a consistent basis, I’m giving serious thought to accrediting my chicken run as a public high school and hiring a School Resource Officer to maintain some semblance of order and discipline.
The only thing missing would be a black chicken to make up the Goth contingent and my flock would have all cliques represented. As it is, it’s damn near the movie Stand by Me, except none of my chicken will grow up to marry Rebecca Romijn.
If chickens were the size of humans, nobody would keep them because they would be far too dangerous. At best, we would allow a controlled population to roam the woodlands of America and issue hunting tags for them, like any other big game. I can imagine fireplaces in homes across the country decorated with head mounts of gigantic chickens with cold, beady eyes piercing the viewer’s soul.
More than likely, six-foot-tall chickens would be the stuff of nightmares and hunted to the point of extinction for being menaces to society. PETA, or some such group of crazies, would lose their collective minds, but they’re fools, anyway.
I imagine a flock of human-sized chickens would be pretty close to having a pack of velociraptors on the loose. Luckily for the human race, chickens do not grow so large that they can’t be picked up by the feet with one hand.
My initiation into the Poultry Cult was a bit of a surprise. My wife and I had discussed keeping chickens for some time. Having acquired rabbits a couple months prior, I didn’t think there would be any more animal additions for some time, but I was wrong.
Damn you, Tractor Supply Company and your Easter Sales.
As they’ve matured, I’ve built them a coop inside a run that is bigger than my first apartment, conducted a cull, and been the target of a presumed ISIS-inspired attack on a patrol that resulted in one CIVCAS. I believe the Al-Pollo of Tennessee Valley Network sponsored the attack, but they have yet to claim responsibility. The investigation is on-going, with eight under coop-arrest pending charges.
I’m not sure how much I’ve spent on these damn birds, and I’m afraid to ask. If I had to guess, it’s cost one of my children at least one semester in college, but hey, I get egss out fo the deal. Really, really expensive eggs.
Then again, there is entertainment value. In addition to hanging out in firearms and conservative groups on Facebook, I get to be a party to conflicting opinions and screaming matches in homesteading and backyard chicken groups, as well. And this is where you have to watch out for the personality changes.
Fairly early on in the Great Chicken Adventure, I found my wife in the run, surrounded by chickens. They associate her with food, so it is natural they congregate around her. I could see she was talking, but could not make out the words. Since I spent my younger years disregarding my auditory health, it’s a common occurrence that I need people to repeat themselves. This is something my wife and I know about me, and we deal with it, even with the occasional frustrations.
Mrs. Cunha once dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the ear doctor, so she could settle, once and for all, whether I was losing my hearing or simply ignoring her. Reading the results graph, the doctor said, “Your hearing’s fine. Start paying attention.”
That’s what I get for having a woman doctor.
I walked into the coop, so I could ask my wife to repeat herself and watch her roll her eyes. What met me was my wife holding a conversation with the entire flock. She bounced from one bird to another, like some small town politician at an election barbeque.
She noticed me standing nearby, and, with absolutely zero sense of abnormality, began to convey the timeline of that day’s chicken soap opera. I must have unintentionally looked interested because I now know entirely too much about the personalities of my chickens, who is the coop bully, and who just doesn’t look right on any given day.
And people wonder why I drink.